Bruce Bits

Published 11:30 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2005

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
As the T.R. Miller Tigers get set for Friday's 3A playoff opener against the Holtville Bulldogs, here are some things perhaps you should know for their playoff run.
Against the field: The Tigers are 2-2 against all playoff qualifiers and 1-2 against Class 3A teams. T.R. Miller has beaten 3A qualifier Straughn 29-7 and Class 4A participant Andalusia 28-14. The Tigers have lost to Class 3A playoff teams Pike County 10-7 and Slocomb 16-14.
Defense wins championships: The Tigers allowed 144 points during the regular season, an average of 14.4 per game.
By comparison, six of the eight Class 3A region champions allowed fewer points. They are, in order from fewest to highest, Pike County 34 (3.4), Aliceville 54 (5.4), Winfield 94 (9.4), Cherokee County 109 (10.9), Colbert County 131 (13.1), Oneonta 135 (13.5), Weaver 150 (15.0) and Lafayette 185 (18.5).
Lafayette's defense may make it the most vulnerable among the region champions despite its 9-1 record. Lafayette gave up at least 12 points every game and 20 or more six times.
While yardage totals on those teams are not available, T.R. Miller has given up an average of 281 yards per game (193 rushing and 88 passing).
The bracket: If the Tigers beat Holtville, they will travel to the Aliceville-Ashville winner next week.
T.R. Miller could face its toughest ever playoff path. The Tigers can theoretically face four straight undefeated teams if they reach the state championship game.
T.R. Miller could possibly play Aliceville in the second round, Oneonta in the quarterfinals, Pike County in the semifinals and Weaver in the state championship game. Each of those teams went through the regular season with 10-0 records.
Road Warriors: With a second-round road trip guaranteed and a quarterfinal road trip more than likely, T.R. Miller will have to perform well on the road.
That could actually be a big advantage. The Tigers have not lost a road game the last two years and have won 19 of their previous 20 road trips dating back to the start of the 2002 playoffs. T.R. Miller's lone road loss during that time was a 35-34 overtime loss at Pike County in the 2003 semifinals.
By comparison, T.R. Miller is 18-4 at home since the start of the 2002 playoffs.
Only one 200 wins milestone per season: T.R. Miller's loss to Pike County means Tigers coach Jamie Riggs will have to wait until next season to win his 200th game at the school. Riggs won his 200th game overall earlier this year when T.R. Miller beat Straughn back in week two.
Riggs currently has 194 wins with the Tigers. Even if T.R. Miller wins the state championship, it would leave Riggs with 199 wins at the school headed into next year.

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